The History of Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR)


POSTED:  October 21, 2021

BY: Dr. James “Ralph” Teague, David Schmieder

This historical overview of the development of forward-looking infrared (FLIR) technology begins with discussions of the basic principles of infrared (IR) radiation and early IR technology, such as the first IR detectors. Then, the early military development and uses of IR systems in both World Wars are explained, including the main industrial and government contributors to these early systems. Next, the FLIR design progression through the Vietnam War era is described including the development of common module FLIRs which led to the creation of both GEN1 and GEN2 FLIRs. Current trends and future projections in FLIR technology are then highlighted such as their application in urban warfare, persistent surveillance systems, microbolometers, passive and active fused sensors, and artificial intelligence.

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